The swim and dive teams took tremendous strokes forward over their winter break meets and training trips, splitting the time between the Freeman Natatorium and the Swimming Hall of Fame pools in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The men’s team earned its first NESCAC win of the season this past weekend, avenging a November loss to Trinity in a four-team meet against the Bantams, Bowdoin, and Colby.  Wes got off to a great start with a second-place finish from the a medley relay squad, highlighted by Erik Yan ’15 posting the top time of the flyers in the event, a 23.20 split.  Yan later took third in the 100-yard fly race.

Billy Hepner ’16 also grabbed a deuce in the 100 breast, finishing in 1:00.48 in an exciting touch finish over Bowdoin’s third-place swimmer. Hepner later took second place in the 200-yard iteration of the same event. Nathan Courville ’17 posted a one-spot in the 200 back, posting his best meet time of the season in that event at 1:58.99.

Two Wesleyan swimmers competed hard against each other and earned points in the 1000 free, as Spencer Daus-Haberle ’17 caught Jimmy Gaston ’15 in the last of 40 laps to edge out the junior for third place in the event. But Gaston had plenty of other chances to earn Wes some points in other events, placing second in the 200 fly and the 500 free. In his first season at Wesleyan, Gaston came into the meet as the reigning NESCAC Performer of the Week for his work in two meets the previous weekend.

“League-wide recognition is always a surprise, and I greatly appreciate the award, although there are a number of my teammates I would like to share it with as so many of them had great performances during our recent meets,” Gaston said of the honor.  “Swimming is all about goals, so naturally, as much as I am pleased with my times, my goals for the season are to swim faster. I think as a team we are all hoping that everything comes together for us at NESCACs and we do Wesleyan proud.”

The distance freestyler, in his first year at the University after transferring here from UC Santa Barbara, beat Conn College in the mile in a tri-meet with Williams, posting a 17:00.94; he also took third in the 500 free. The next day, he took first in the 200 and 500 free against Tufts, dropping 1.3 seconds off his third-place time in the 500, down to 4:49.86.

“It’s always encouraging to see your times drop after a period of intense training. It makes all the hard work worth it,” Gaston said. “I joined the team this year with a past shoulder injury and subsequent surgeries that made my future as a competitive swimmer questionable. I really wasn’t sure if my shoulder would hold up, but so far, so good.”

Yan was also a big point-earner in the Tufts meet, posting three first-place finishes for the Cardinals. He first did it in the 200 medley relay, where both he and Jacque Bazile ’16 had the top times in their respective legs of the meet. He then took first in both the 50 and 100 fly events. Hepner was also a top finisher in that meet, grabbing the 100 breast title before finishing second in a strong 100 IM showing.

Gaston said that their eight-day training trip to Florida was very important to the increased success of the team.

“The benefits to a team training trip are twofold,” he said.  “First, we are able to concentrate on just swimming and second, we bond as a team. We were able to get to know each other in a non-academic environment where we didn’t have to worry about exams and papers. And all that sunshine and warm weather just makes you feel healthier.”
The women’s squad also used the break to its advantage, earning three wins in the past two weeks over Tufts, Colby, and Trinity. The Cardinal women got their first win of 2014 on Sunday, Jan. 18, defeating Tufts in a head-to-head match that was originally scheduled to take place at Tufts, but a crack in the Jumbos’ pool has caused them to cancel all of their home meets for the season.

Angela Slevin ’15 and Roxy Capron ’14 led the Cardinals, who placed first in seven of the eight events in which they participated. Capron took first in the 50 and 100 breast, as well as the 100 IM. Rachel Hirsch ’15, who recently rejoined the team after a semester abroad, took the second-place spot in both of the breaststroke events Capron won. Hirsch and Slevin were both a part of the winning 200 medley relay, joined by flyer Alyssa Savarino ’14 and freestyler Serena Zalkowitz ’17.

Slevin was unfazed by participating in the first three women’s events of the afternoon, winning the relay, then adding a five-second victory in the 400 IM and a three-second win in the 200 freestyle before winning the 100 back later in the afternoon.

Savarino added wins in the 50 and 100 fly, and the Cardinals snatched a 151-145 win, their second six-point victory over Tufts in three years. The Birds were also helped by point-earning performances by two divers in both the one- and three-meter dives, including a first-place finish from Carly Feinman ’16 in the one-meter.

The day before, Slevin took second place in the mile swim, beating Conn College, and finished first overall in the 200 back. Capron won the 200 breaststroke and was three-hundredths of a second away from the same result in the 100 breast, but was outtouched by a Conn swimmer, who snatched victory away from the Wesleyan captain. Slevin earned NESCAC Performer of the Week honors for her performances against Tufts, Conn College, and Williams.

In last weekend’s meet, the Cards emerged victorious against two of their three opponents, beating the Mules 172-123 and the Bantams 149-144. Slevin took two victories, in the 100 and 200 backstrokes, while finishing second after getting passed in the final lap of the 200 individual medley, 12-hundredths of a second away from first place. Capron won the identical 100 and 200 distances in the breaststroke, and Hirsch followed her with a third-place finish in both those events. Alexa Burzinski ’15 also turned in a strong performance last weekend, placing second in the 100 and 200 butterfly events.

Trinity was not originally scheduled last weekend to be scored against WeSwim on either the men’s or women’s side, but a scheduling error by their coaching during the November race prevented them from racing their top swimmers in the final women’s race; the Trinity women likely would have beaten the Wes women had this error not occurred. While this mistake didn’t affect the men’s outcome, the coaches nevertheless asked Wes to score both teams again. This request backfired mightily on the Bantams, who expected to earn an extra victory for both squads, but were instead upset by both the Wes men and women.

The Cardinal water sports clubs will finish up the regular season with a home meet against Coast Guard on Saturday, Feb. 1, but they start their taper this week in preparation for NESCACs in Williamstown, Mass. from Feb. 13-16.

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